Monday, June 30, 2008

Talking to Old Friends (Odyshape), for all of its amazing content, falls short sometimes. Here's another example of a completely glossed over review that describes not a single note of music. As soon as I get a copy to listen to, I'll write a allmusicguide-style review that I'll submit to them. Perhaps they'll enjoy an actual review compared to this lame synopsis:

"It was the late Kurt Cobain (with some help from labelmates Sonic Youth) who initiated Geffen's reissue of the Raincoats' catalog. And listening to Odyshape, it's easy to see why Cobain loved them so."

A little background info, not bad. Also, members of Sonic Youth were among those (not just Cobain) who pushed for the re-releases. Also, the second sentence is completely unnecessary.

"There's an emotional directness about these songs that hooks you from the start. Mostly you hear about emotions and situations, sometimes indirectly, almost as if you are eavesdropping on a conversation. Then it hits you: it's almost like you're talking to old friends."

I've heard live versions of these songs, and I agree with him. But what about the music? Is it messy or tight? Did you know that This Heat drummer Charles Hayward plays drums througout the album? That Robert Wyatt makes an appearance? I mean, these are notable items that would attract many listeners to said record. Why not go into any kind of detail here?

Instead, we get a half-baked "talking to old friends" statement that belongs in a Eagles review. Also of note, the final three sentences scream, "COP OUT!" like no review I've seen in a while. Completely lazy.

"That's the way the Raincoats' music works: it's deceptively simple, but extremely complicated. Also, as on this record, it makes demands of the listener."

So, how does the music work? It's both simple AND complicated? I understand the concept, but WHERE in the Raincoat's album Odyshape, lies the truth in your statement? Again, the second sentence is redundancy realized, a classic "what in the hay bale does the second sentence truly represent?" kind of thing. I feel like I am once again compelled to read the liner notes.

"But songs like "Red Shoes" and "Dancing in My Head" say this far more eloquently."

OK, thanks. We get two song titles, not a single lyrical reference point, not a single musical reference point, outside of the fact that one should be prepared for a challenging music experience that contains simple and complicated parts. Oh yeah, and the songs sound like old friends.

And that's it. As far as I can tell, there are no drums, guitar, bass or instruments of any kind on the album. I have no idea what the band sounds like. For a band whose sound is shambling and epic, and then suddenly stilted and primitive, any kind of explanation for what the listener can expect would be nice.

Furthermore, I accept any criticism, but any commenter who believes that Allmusicguide should be free of critique "because there is soooooo much music to review" should ask themselves a question: Since when is quality less valuable than quantity? Should any one source lower their standards just to pat themselves on the back for having the most reviews?

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